Charlie Brown

1. Letter to a Young Architect

By Alexandros N. Tombazis The wisdom of the ancients is passed on to the young in the sayings of Alexandros N. Tombazis, Greek architect and teacher known to his countrymen as a pioneering advocate of "bioclimatic" environmental design. He begins with an admission to the next generation of architects: "I believe you are not sure what Architecture is all about. Don't worry - neither am I." Over 140 pages, Tombazis offers sly counsel, one idea to a spread. Tombazis, whose work ranges from a Dubai mosque to a Norwegian concert hall, seems bent on advancing the cause of humanity itself, through reasoning with would-be builders. Being an architect should be "a preoccupation that should engulf your body and soul for the rest of your life," he writes, because "Architecture is, in the final account, all about life itself." It's a tall order for a slim paperback. But the first edition of 2,000 sold out. This second edition expands the readership with an English translation. Libro; 20 euro

2. Renzo Piano Museums

By Victoria Newhouse Cultural institutions have become the architectural playground of our time, with cities competing for tourist dollars by trumpeting the latest design feats of starchitects. But when Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers went to work on the Pompidou Center in Paris in 1972, a museum was still just supposed to be a museum. After 35 years, the audacity of their accomplishment?turning a building inside out, delivering high-tech in the 18th century heart of France, creating a museum that mostly works?is still worth savoring. This book delivers the Pompidou Center plus 17 more museum designs by Piano, some small, some large, some less acclaimed. Monacelli Press; $60

3. 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School

By Matthew Frederick The author of this encouraging guide to professional success does not say where he went to school. But he dedicates his priceless primer to architecture students anywhere, who find themselves lost in a maze of theory and professorial caveat. Frederick, an architect and urban designer in Cambridge, Mass., offers concrete tips, one pep talk at a time. How to draw a line? Don't feather and fuzz your way across a page. Suburban buildings are freestanding objects in space, he reminds, while urban buildings are often shapers of space. When an idea just isn't good enough, don't be afraid to throw it away. Roll your drawings for transport or storage with the image side facing out, so they'll stay flat when unrolled, he advises. And don't forget to "manage your ego." MIT Press, $12.95

4. Frank Lloyd Wright in New York: The Plaza Years, 1954-1959

By Jane King Hession and Debra Pickrel Foreword by Mike Wallace According to this intimate and illustrated account, Frank Lloyd Wright established a base at the Plaza Hotel while working on the Guggenheim Museum. The architect was 87 and had already made clear that he didn't like the city. Vintage photos convey a sense of frailty but no loss of dignity. One can only guess what Wright thought of working under a crystal chandelier. Gibbs Smith; $29.95

5. Exit to Tomorrow: World's Fair Architecture, Design, Fashion 1933-2005

Edited by Andrew Garn
Text by Paola Antonelli and Udo Kultermann The avant-garde architect Hani Rashid attributes his passion for futuristic forms to a trip he and his designer brother, Karim Rashid, made to the 1967 Expo, shortly after the young brothers had moved from London to Montreal. As Hani Rashid tells the story, the boys' father had promised they were going to "the new world." Expo delivered with a geodesic dome, a monorail, and Moshe Safdie's Habitat. This small-format book captures the spirit of that era, when a world's fair could still sway children and inspire. The narrative begins with the 1933 Century of Progress in Chicago and includes the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow, which Charles and Ray Eames helped produce for the State Department during a thaw in the Cold War. As Udo Kultermann writes, world's fairs grew out of the Enlightenment, when countries took pride in showing what each could contribute to the common good. The events sparked grand architectural gestures. Universe; $45